This entry originally appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the October 23, 2018 issue of the New York Times.
Readers argue that the G.O.P. is stoking fear and demonizing immigrants rather than taking steps to actually address the issue.
By Beatriz Manz
To the Editor:
While President Trump continues to demonize migrants from Central America, why do we so seldom hear about the causes of this migration north? During the wars in the 1980s, the United States government spent billions of dollars in support of murderous dictators while creating devastation that left tens of thousand dead, millions displaced internally, more than a hundred thousand refugees in Mexico and shattered societies. The lasting legacy is violence, corruption and impunity.
Instead of rebuilding what we destroyed, the Trump administration now threatens the little aid those countries get, reportedly $500 million last year.
Common sense would tell us that what Central American countries need is economic aid. The overwhelming aid that Central America is getting now is billions of dollars every year from remittances sent by immigrants. This aid is all that stands in the way of social and economic collapse.
The United States is at full employment, and these immigrants are clearly contributing to this strong economy. We have a moral responsibility to aid innocent victims of disastrously misguided previous policies. If diminishing immigration is the goal, there is no better way than rebuilding these societies starting now.
BEATRIZ MANZ is Professor Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley, and served as Chair of the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) from 1992-1998 as well as Chair of the Ethnic Studies department from 2006-2009. Her research is focused on contemporary Mayan communities in Guatemala. She has had a long-term interest in human rights and justice and has been involved with several international, governmental, and non-governmental institutions, such as the UNHCR, UNDP, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Oxfam, and the Center for Justice and Accountability.